flash brackets revisited …

I have substantially rewritten my original page on the use of flash brackets.  Digital photography technology is steadily improving to the point where we now have cameras with fairly clean 1600 ISO settings, and very usable 3200 ISO. It is now ever more easy to get great results with bounce flash, and have all the light from the flash be indirect.  With this, the need for me to use a flash bracket, has been greatly reduced.

Rotating flash brackets are cumbersome attachments between the camera and flash, which enables the flash to always be over the camera. Since the flash is always overhead of the camera with a flash bracket, regardless of whether you’re shooting horizontally or vertically, there is no sideways shadow … if you use direct flash to some extent, or a flash modifier on your camera.

It is now possible for me to get vertical images like these, using on-camera flash, with no trace of sideways shadows … because there is no light thrown directly forward from the flash itself.  The light is all indirect. This means there will be no noticeable shadow regardless of how my flash is positioned on top of my camera.

These two recent posts are also relevant to this:

So these days I get by without a flash bracket, and I thought it pertinent to update the web page to reflect this.

10 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1 says

    I bet you have changed your flash bracket by your usual assistant !
    Or, you hold the flash on your left hand and the camera on the right one.

    But I think your option is the first way .


  2. 2 says

    Hi there Antonio …

    It might be that I am misunderstanding your reply, but I think you’re asking whether I had an assistant there holding up another light ?

    I did have a 2nd photographer with me, but she works independently from me in covering the wedding for me.

    So what you see in that image is *all* lit up by an on-camera speedlight. But my choice of ISO and aperture are such that I was able to light up a very large room with just the 580EX speedlight.

    I hope this helps to explain.

    Neil vN

  3. 3 says

    Hello Neil.
    If there was a misunderstanding it would be my fault not yours :) …
    Your explanation is very concise and I thank you for it.

    The light in both picture appears to come from the left and they are both in portrait orientation.
    I suspect the flash was bounced against a large white wall …
    I myself when I – in my modest photos – bounce the flash the pictures come with a small orange cast …

    Very clever :)

  4. 4 says

    Nope, no ‘large white wall’ behind me or to my left.

    Re the color casts due to bouncing flash off non-white surfaces – this is usually no problem at all with a raw workflow.

    Neil vN

  5. 5 says

    “Re the colour casts due to bouncing flash off non-white surfaces – this is usually no problem at all with a raw workflow. Neil.”

    Yes. You are right. It’s the way I try to correct my pictures … :)

  6. 6AJ Ford says


    I’ve been lurking around here for months and I love reading the blog. M

    My question:
    I understand the concept, but I’m wondering how you handle photographing a group of 10 inside a hall with high ceilings? I find myself in that situation periodically and I usually resort to my (bulky and quite obtrusive) flash bracket.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge – it’s GREATLY appreciated.



  7. 7 says

    Hi there AJ ..

    In the scenario you describe there, unless you’re using additional off-camera lighting, and just staying with a single on-camera flash … then you’re going to have to accept the limitations you’re shooting within. And then you will have to throw enough light forward from your flashgun – which you most likely won’t be able to do by bouncing off the ceiling or some wall somewhere.

    So in that case, you’d better be off shooting with your flash in some bounce position where the flash is throwing a fair amount of light forward. And if you want to do vertical shots, then the flash bracket is going to be necessary if you want to avoid sideways shadows.

    But in the situation you describe there, I’d most likely revert to using off-camera Q-flashes (Quantum flashes) with umbrellas.

    Neil vN

  8. 8 says

    Allow me Neil to post a tip, or what I think it is, of the problem that Ford has with hight ceilings.

    As far as I know, I think that to “handle photographing a group of 10 inside a hall with high ceilings” depends a bit on the equipment you have in hands. I mean, if you have a MK III is very different of having a Digital Rebel or a G9. We are much more at ease with high level equipment that with low one.

    Of course, if you give a MK III to someone who doesn’t know what aperture is, than…
    But these are extremes, and I am not in the extremes. I am nor a naive nor an expert, just a concerned amateur.

    That said, I think the issue is on changing the ISO of the camera until you get the right result for the right EV. Than we can bounce the flash to the ceiling or wall with or without full power and make two or three test shots to obtain the right settings.

    May be these are the reasons why some cameras have automatic ISO…

    Please Neil, feel free to erase this message if you think it is inconvenient.
    Thank you.

  9. 9Nathalie Orengo says

    Hi Neil ! I’m confuse about the use of a flash bracket. I have the idea that using a flash bracket would not prevent to bounce your flash if you want to do so but at contrary would help find more angle and offers just more possibilities. I also have the idea that it would allow you to still be able create a nice light when you can’t bounce the flash on anything without being force to use your flash wireless.
    I’m asking that because I’m bouncing and flaging my flash but I’m thinking about buying a flash bracket though. Don’t you think that using your bounce techniques with a flash bracket would add even more creative possibilities ?

  10. 10 says

    Nathalie .. the idea with a flash bracket originally was to make sure that the flash shadow always falls behind the subject and not next to the subject when you do vertical shots. That ‘sideways’ shadow is just ugly.

    The flash bracket is nice then in keeping the shadow behind your subject.

    In the way that I bounce flash now, I very rarely get a flash shadow. So I don’t need a flash bracket for that anymore. However, it would make my life simpler with bounce flash, since I wouldn’t have to twist the flash head around when I change from vertical to horizontal.

    But that is offset by not working with the extra weight and bulk. Especially the bulk.

    Neil vN

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